Land scam case: ED arrests seven, sent to judicial custody; hearing on remand today
The ED crack down is related to money laundering probe in connection with fraudulent sale of around 4.5 acres land, in possession of the Indian army since independence, besides one acre land in Cheshire Home road in upscale Bariatu area in Ranchi.
RANCHI: The directorate of enforcement (ED) on Friday arrested seven persons on charges of money laundering in connection with fraudulent sale of at least two land parcels at premium locations in the state capital, a day after it raided 21 locations across three states including the official and personal residence of IAS officer Chhavi Ranjan in Ranchi and Jamshedpur on Thursday.
Those arrested, include Afshar Ali, Imtiaz Ahmed, Pradeep Bagchi, Md Saddam Hussain, Talha Khan, Bhanu Pratap Prasad and Faiyaz Khan, an ED official said.
Being a public holiday, the accused were produced before the special PMLA judge at his residence who forwarded them into judicial custody. “We have prayed for initial remand of five days. The matter would be heard on Saturday,” an ED official said.
The ED crack down is related to money laundering probe in connection with fraudulent sale of around 4.5 acres land, in possession of the Indian army since independence, besides one acre land in Cheshire Home road in upscale Bariatu area of the state capital.
Chhavi Ranjan is also under the ED scanner in the case as the 2011 batch IAS officer, currently director in social welfare department, was deputy commissioner of Ranchi when these land deals were allegedly processed, sources said. Ranjan was Ranchi DC from July 15, 2020 to July 11, 2022.
Sources said after conducting raids at his premises on Thursday, the federal agency could soon summon Ranjan for further questioning in the case.
Of the seven persons arrested, Afshar Ali and Bhanu Partap Prasad, are government employees. While Afshar is a grade three employee at a government hospital, Bhanu Partap Prasad is currently posted as revenue sub-inspector with the Bargain circle office in Ranchi. The rest are land brokers who were part of the syndicate involved in “forging documents” and “tampering records” kept with the authorities for fraudulent sale of the land.
An official said that during the course of investigation it has been established that the land in army’s possession originally belonged to one late BM Laxman Rao who had given it to the Defence. However, by way of forging documents the syndicate had created a fake owner of the land, Pradeep Bagchi, one of the seven arrested, further sold it to a Bengal-based company Jagatbandhu Tea Estate Pvt. Ltd.
Investigation, officials said, revealed that the declared government value of the said property was ₹20,75,84,200 whereas the said property has shown to be sold for an amount of ₹7,00,00,000 which was highly undervalued, even compared to the declared government rate.
“Out of this amount of ₹7 crores, payment amounting to ₹25,00,000 only was made into the account of the said Pradip Bagchi and rest of the money was falsely shown to be paid through cheques in the deed no. 6888 of 2021 of M/s Jagatbandhu Tea Estate Pvt. Ltd. Thus, the rest of the payments have been mentioned fraudulently in order to show that the transaction and payments relating to the sale purchase of the property are genuine,” an official said.
In case of the one acre land on Cheshire Home Road, the property was sold to one Bishnu Agrawal by way of creating forged and counterfeit documents.
“In this case, it was learnt that for acquiring the above properties, documents and records available at the Circle Office, Bargain, Ranchi along with the office of Registrar of Assurances, Kolkata, West Bengal have been altered and records have been modified,” an official said.
The agency, in February this year, had conducted surveys at the Bargain Circle office and office of Registrar of Assurances in Kolkata during which the forging of the documents was established.
The officials said during the Thursday raids they have seized voluminous property documents from the premises, possession of the above accused persons as well as from other associates which are highly ‘incriminating’. In addition to this, forged seals, stamps bearing impression of several offices, officials including Registrar of Assurances
(Records) and very old stamps, used to manufacture the forged deeds have also been recovered, officials said.